Friday, February 05, 2010

Poetry Friday -- What Are You Trying To Accomplish?

image by S├ęgozyme

by Margaret Atwood

You begin this way:
this is your hand,
this is your eye,
that is a fish, blue and flat
on the paper, almost
the shape of an eye.
This is your mouth, this is an O
or a moon, whichever
you like. This is yellow.

Outside the window
is the rain, green
because it is summer, and beyond that
the trees and then the world,
which is round and has only
the colors of these nine crayons.

This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the red and then
the orange: the world burns.

Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.

The rest of the poem is at

After Tai Chi on Wednesday, I was talking to a retired university professor about teaching. It all seemed very casual and surface-level, until he asked me, "What's the most important thing you hope to accomplish in the nine months you have your students?" Whoa. That kind of upped the ante of the conversation all at once!!!

Whether or not you're a teacher, see if you can come up with an answer right now -- what's the most important thing you hope to accomplish this year?

My answer? That my students will love to read. Love to read and CHOOSE to read. And I want them to learn to THINK. To curb their impulsivity and THINK before they speak or act, to know how to store information in their brains and retrieve it when they need it again, to be able to figure out what to do with new information or information in a new format. ...And I guess, come to think of it in retrospect, I also hope they will be good conversationalists. I hope they'll be the kind of people who will either ask thought-provoking questions, or the kind who will be able to come up with a good answer when asked.

Mary Ann has the Poetry Friday roundup today at Great Kid Books.

If you are interested in hosting the roundup, check out the schedule in the sidebar and pick an open week that works for you. Leave your request in the comments, or email me directly at mlhahn AT earthlink DOT net.


  1. Wonderful poem (new to me)! I have a thing for hands. :)

    Love your answer to the big question. Yes! Learn to love reading and to THINK.

    I'd be happy to host PF on May 14th!

  2. Oh heavy and happy sigh.

    First, I love that poem.

    Second, I'll say it again: Why can't you or Franki teach all the world? Or, at least, my children...

  3. I love this poem! I'm also a big fan of Margaret Atwood. I remember when I was first introduced to her work in high school. My English teacher handed out sheets that were to be taken home and signed by a parent, permitting us to read "The Edible Woman."

    Love your answer to the question. Got me thinking, though I'm not a teacher.

  4. Great poem, and loved the discussion of teaching. I'm a former teacher who is now easing my way back into education by subbing right now.
    I would be happy to host Poetry Friday on 6/11!

  5. Jama and Kelly, I've got you on the schedule! Thanks!

    Jules, Thanks for the compliment! :-)

  6. Anonymous10:05 AM

    I love this poem. Fitting to the discussion. Your answer is exactly what I want all students but particularly fifth graders to leave school with, loving to read.

  7. Anonymous3:59 PM

    We can do June 18th over at TWT. LMK.


  8. Anonymous4:00 PM

    We can host on 6/18 over at Two Writing Teachers. LMK...



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